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The DNSSEC Journey Continues to Advance In Africa

Dnssec antananarivo madagarcar 750x425 28may15

Figure: Participants at the DNSSEC Roadshow event in Antananarivo (Madagascar)

Developing the domain name industry in Africa is important and therefore a central objective of the ICANN AFRICA Strategy; focusing on the importance of the Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC), a direct contributor to the security of the Internet, providing mechanisms to help prevent DNS data spoofing and tampering. This is how the "DNSSEC roadshow project" was conceived. Through it, we have lead efforts to drive awareness and understanding of the importance of the DNSSEC, as well as build capacity toward ccTLD DNSSEC adoption in AFRICA.

It is clear that many ccTLD registry operators face challenges that are do not enable a suitable working environment to secure the ccTLDs in Africa. Some of these challenges are institutional, as we have cases where some countries are still thinking about ccTLD redelegations.  Others concern the lack of well-qualified human resources, even for registry operators that have no institutional concern. Still, we see that some have started the process, and sent formal requests to the IANA department at ICANN, a positive step in the right direction. Our efforts are to build on these successes and transfer them to the rest of the continent.

From Workshops to Implementation

It is important to note that the implementation plans are designed on the last day of the DNSSEC roadshow events, with the participating communities' input. We have seen over the past few months, that some beneficiaries have already started working on solutions and hope that two or three more DNSSEC implementation could happen by the end of the year 2015.

Since the roadshow's kick-off two years ago starting in Kenya, we have taken our roadshow to 12 countries, with many more still in the pipeline:

Antananarivo (May 4-6, 2015), Congo (March 11-13, 2015), Cote d'Ivoire (Feb 24-26, 2015), Botswana (1-3 Dec 2014), Cameroon (17-19 Sep 2014), Burkina Faso (19-21-May 2014), Zambia (28-30 April 2014) , Senegal (19-21 March 2014), Rwanda (10-12 March 2014), Tanzania (18-20 Sept 2013), Nigeria (26-27 June 2013), Kenya (11-13 June 2013).

* You can read more on the DNSSEC roadshow at

Another effort on the ground to nurture entrepreneurship in the DNS business, and an important outcome of both the Middle East and Africa Strategies, is ICANN's partnership with Egypt's National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) to launch the DNS-Entrepreneurship Center (DNS-EC) in Cairo, Egypt to, among other things, develop the domain name industry ecosystem in Africa and the Middle East You can read more about it here.

Continuous Awareness on the Subject

Building on the previous two successful DNS forums in Africa, the third Africa DNS Forum for this year is scheduled to take place from July 6-8, in Nairobi, Kenya, and will provide a fertile platform for candid discussions and lessons learnt on the DNSSEC.  You can read more and register for the event at

For us in Africa, DNSSEC awareness remains an ongoing initiative. For that purpose we plan to cover more countries even as we leverage on key regional and international fora to discuss the topic. It is our strong belief that in due time, more registries, registrars, registrants, etc. In Africa will be encouraged to take steps to adopt DNSSEC.


    Domain Name System
    Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."